Friday, 26 May 2017

Stain On My Parade

A Quick Guide to Staining & Varnishing Wood

Before staining the wood I lightly sand it, dust it off with a brush, then apply a stain.  If you're fussy you might lightly wash it off with a rag rather than brush it, but then you'll have to wait until it dries.  Wood tends to be very thirsty so don't be alarmed if the first few stains are absorbed away.  Often the first attempt turns the wood an off-green colour, but if you persevere after about 3 - 6 coats (waiting for the stain to dry out completely, often overnight & possibly lightly sanding between coats) you'll have finished staining.  The more coats you add the more stained the wood will become, so you'll have to use your judgement with that.

To get a dark brown wood, which I call 'Prophet 5', I use a mahogany Brown stain;


 And to get a more 'Moog' style I use a Cherry stain;





Once stained, it's then time to add a coat of varnish.  This'll help protect the wood.  I'm using a varnish designed for boats, but it seems to work quite well with Synths.  I used to use a brush for this, but have found you get better results with a old t-shirt.  Just a tiny amount is needed and you'll have to add more layers than with the brush, but overall you'll get a much smoother finish.  When using a brush I found it was easy to accidentally add too much and would then have to sand down the excess for an even finish.  

The only problem with this varnish is it takes ages to dry, so sometimes overnight isn't long enough. But it gives a great finish to your synths so it's worth the wait. 


And that's how I stain and varnish my synths!




Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Google Scholarship

It's been a little quite around here lately, for this there's good reason; In December I was lucky enough to win a scholarship in Android Programming with Udacity paid for by Google.  So that's what I've been concentrating on for the last 4 months.  I've not stopped thinking about making & synths and drum machines though (in fact I took the course to help me with programming them better).  I've also managed to design a PCB for the drum machine, so that'll soon be up & running. Stay tuned!

A Faster Horse: Drum Machine Survey Results


The results are in for the Drum Machine Survey.  Thanks to everyone that took the time to fill out the questionnaire; even if I did perhaps force my friends to participate.  Let's take a look at the result;


So people seem to want to keep the case design mostly the same, which I'd put down to the first version being OK rather than people's lack of imagination! 😇  I'm going to make a few variations & choose the best one in regards to looks & ease of construction, but in general it won't be too different.  Another suggestion was to make it rack mountable, this could be a great idea to have an alternative version.





A lot of Goth readers here obviously! So it looks like black it is.




& it'll have a volume pot.



...with a large audio-jack output



...and the audio jack will be at the back



....Along with the MIDI jack



...And the switches will stay in a row


Cheapskates ahoy! But I completely agree, the audio will sound the same with premium or with no-name parts.  The component reliability is a different matter, so I think for this I'll meet the two groups half-way & probably have branded parts from a reliable distributer (hopefully eliminating the chance of receiving fakes).



So I've gone along with the group-think so far, however when it comes to power I've decided that if I'm selling this, I probably (probably) don't want to be responsible for burning down a house or electrocuting somebody (or worse for me, being sued!).  So with that in mind I'm just going to use a 9v battery & leave a couple of open points on the PCB for anybody who wants to instead use a power supply.



This is the answer with the closest results, so I'll order some of each & see what looks best once the next case is built.

So, now on to making the PCB



Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Drum Machine Survey

In my effort to make some sort of Homer-Simpson inspired monstrosity, could you please fill out this survey and tell me what you want in a drum machine;

https://www.surveymonkey.de/r/VD58M7V

Go on, it'll only take like 30 seconds* and I'll buy you a pint if you do**

Feel free to send it around other people who might be interested, pop-stars and the like...

Cheers!!!!!

*Well, maybe 2 minutes
**There is absolutely no way I'll buy you a pint for doing this



Thursday, 22 December 2016

Waldorf Streichfett DIY Stand

After making the stands for the Volcas I thought I'd make one for the Waldorf Streichfett - an amazing string synth.  As it only needs to hold one Streichfett, the case design is much simpler to build (with less chance of me messing it up!).

You'll need;

6.5mm Birch Plywood
 (250mm x 500mm) €2.60 from Modulor Berlin excl. delivery


9mm Birch Plywood (250mm x 500mm) €3.30 from Modulor Berlin excl. delivery

Black 3,9x30mm screws (€5-ish for 800 from Toom)

The 6.5mm plywood is used for the side and the 9mm is used to hold the Streichfett (I use 9mm here because any thinner and it'll split the wood when screwed).


You'll also need;

saw/table saw /sander / ruler / pen/pencil / sheet of paper / drill /tape

Start by choosing the desired angle of your stand...  I laid the Streichfett on its side on some paper until I found a good angle.  I then drew round this, adding a few mm each side for some leeway.  My final dimensions were like this;


I used the 90 degree angle of the A4 paper as the reference angle, then the preferred angle that the Streichfett was sitting on the paper.

To cut the 9mm wood that the Streichfett will stand on I used;

18.5cm width (same width of Streichfett) x 12cm long (so there's no chance of it tipping forwards or backwards as you operate it).  Cutting this part out should be much trouble, just remember to keep it as straight as possible ;-)




With the paper template drawn, you can now draw into the wood



Then mark out the other part (just reverse the paper)
First I roughly chopped the plank in two, to make it easier to handle. 


To cut at the correct angles I continued the lines and measured the angles and set the table saw to the same.  If you're using a normal saw you could also use this as a guide line.


With both the parts cut out, I compared them and then sanded them down until the matched perfectly.


I then sanded the main panels for smoothness and the edges at 45 degrees.


Now place the Streichfett where you like it to sit (making sure it doesn't overhang or anything).  Mark a line at the bottom of the Streichfett, then place the 9mm board and mark the edges here.


Use a ruler and calculate the exact centre, then mark two spots diagonally where you'd like the screws to go.  You only have to do this to one panel.


Tape the two panels securely together (you don't want them moving) and for a better finish you can mask with tape where the drill enters and exits (not pictured, but this will help prevent splintering).


Now drill these holes.


Once drilled, measure the distance of the spaces...


...Then mark these spaces on both sides of the 9mm board.


Then drill guide holes into the centre of these markings on both sides of the 9mm board.


Add the screws to the board but only drill them through enough so the tip is barely coming out the other end.


Match the screws up to the guide holes, and then start to slowly screw them into place, making a few turns before changing to the other screw (this will help prevent any warping of the angle).  

Repeat for the other side.


You should now have a pretty cool stand for your Streichfett!  You could varnish it from here, but personally I like the exposed wood look.


 If the Streichfett is too loose, you can sand down one side of the 9mm board, just make sure you keep it straight.  Another way around this is to use double sided velcro.

 Enjoy your new stand!



***UPDATE Arduino Drum Machine****


Simplified Schematic

Ok, so this 'simplified' schematic might not actually make things any simpler!  But some people have asked for it, so maybe it'll help clear somethings up a little bit - especially how to wire up the audio output and pots/switches.  This was drawn from memory so I hope it's correct - give me a shout if not and I'll update (the pots might work in reverse, but they'll still work).  I'd also urge you to look at the schematic on Jan Ostman's website for more help;

https://janostman.wordpress.com/the-o2-source-code/

Thanks!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Older Stuff: A Handful of Different Modules





Over the last few years I’ve made quite a few different modules, some never get to leave the drawer due to space, and others get slowly changed as my needs suit.






Pictured above is a 6-into-1 mixer (for the volcas), a delay, a fuzz, and then an MFOS synth.



The delay came a Velleman kit from Conrad, which is always fun, but since then I’ve built a few others using the classic PT2399 IC.  












The six into 1 is I cobbled together from various schematics from the book ‘Handmade Electronic Music’ by Nicolas Collins.  

This book is great for just getting out and making things, with lots of simple but effective ideas that you can easily build upon. Highly recommended.